Dulles International Airport was nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places yesterday by Transportation Secretary Brock Adams ending years of dispute over providing architectural safeguards for Eero Saarinen's famous 1962 airport terminal.
The action brings the controversial proposed expansion of the soaring glass and concrete building under review of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which protects properties listed on the National Register.
An already approved 50-foot extension of the terminal on the runway side, for which the Federal Aviation Administration received construction bids only last month, will be reviewed by the advisory council, as will a further 50-foot extension and an 800-foot lengthening of the terminal proposed for the 1990s.
Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus is expected to approve inclusion of the airport in the national register quietly.
The Dulles terminal would become the newest of the 14,000 historic places listed on the National Register. The 1949 Commonwealth Building in Portland, Ore. currently is the newest building.
Adams' said his action is in line with a new DOT policy announced last fall to encourage greater use of design art and architecture in transportation.
The Interior Department and architectural and historical groups around the nation have been urging DOT for years to nominate Dulles to the Register, but DOT resisted because it feared the advisory council might block or delay improvements at the busy airport.
Under the 1966 Historic Preservation Act, the advisory council reviews all changes to registered historic buildings and those declared eligible by the secretary of the Interior for inclusion on the register. Anticipating quick action by Andrus approving the airport's inclusion, DOT and advisory council officials began meeting yesterday to discuss the 50-foot Dulles extension about to be constructed.
The extension to the federally owned airport and additional extensions proposed for the 1990s have been criticized by several members of the National Capital Planning Commission as detractions from a national landmark. The American Institute of Architects recently voted the terminal one of the three most magnificent buildings in America.
A spokesman for the Advisory Council, Robert M. Utley, said yesterday that council review "doesn't mean we're going to insist Dulles remain just as it was in 1963 (when it was dedicated). Our concern is not just preservation but the public interest, and functional buildings must remain functional."
Utley said he had no idea what changes if any the council might recommend. James T. Murphy, director of Metropolitan Washington Airports. (National and Dulles, said "we think the 50-foot extension a reasonable one and the advisory council realizes Dulles is not a static building. I think we have an absolute common purpose here."